North America, United States, Washington, Cascade Mountains, Inspiration Peak, South Face

Publication Year: 1970.

Inspiration Peak, South Face. This impressive 1000-foot face in the Southern Picket Range was climbed for the first time on June 18 by Bill Sumner and me. Barraged by my admonitions that we were about to waste a good day on a bad climb, Bill pulled his hat over his ears and started up the lower left corner of the face where a rock buttress meets the glacier. One F7 lead followed by several hundred feet of scrambling let us reach a diagonal ramp system that from below appears as just a crack cutting across the center of the south face. We followed this for three leads to where the ramp branches into an upper and lower system. About 50 feet beyond the fork, the great jagged gash that is plainly visible from the east side of Terror Basin, meets the upper ramp and ascends the vertical face for 400 feet to the skyline just west of the summit. After some simple debate over whether the safer-appearing but increasingly more unpleasant ramp was esthetic or not, we entered the gash by climbing past its start along the ramp for 40 feet, and doubling back up and around an F6 corner. Three leads of inside face climbing and chimneying (F8 maximum) did not end in the trap I had predicted, but brought us out under a chockstone just below the easy summit pitch. We used about 20 pitons and nuts; the climb and return to camp took 12 hours. The combination of excellent rock, continuous exposure, and challenging but never severe climbing should make this route a classic in this increasingly popular alpine area. NCCS III, F8.

Mike Heath